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Joined: 03 Oct 2003
Posts: 641
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2004 11:35 pm    Post subject: My Story Reply with quote

Ironically it was Friday the 13th in the year 2000 when I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Two years prior I underwent a lumpectomy on my left breast, thankfully it was benign but it did leave me with a large dent on the inner center side of my breast. Then here I was again; getting another lumpectomy after the mammogram and ultrasound technicians saw three small shadows that looked suspicious. Two turned out to be DCIS?s and one was aggressively invasive.

I won?t go into all the surgical procedures but I will tell you that I lost the outer half of my left breast. I underwent A/C chemo and 30 treatments of radiation. I lost a year out of my life but I didn?t lose my life!

My husband died of brain cancer when he was just 30 (12 years ago this April 15, 2004). Being widowed, the disfiguration of my breast wasn?t a huge concern, until I stated living life again and dating. I dated a few men that I was quite attached to. I was petrified and so embarrassed when the time came when I felt I had to ?apologize? for the look and feel of my body. I didn?t want anyone to touch my breast and I never undressed in the light.

For three years I stuffed one side of my bra, cringed at having to wear a bathing suit, and denied myself of any sexual pleasure because of my ?embarrassment?. I know there will be a million woman out there that will say that your body doesn?t define who you are, and that a disfigured breast should not be an issue. Well ladies ? it was with me and that?s who I am! I?m an intelligent woman, have a successful career, and sideline business. My greatest accomplishment is raising my son on my own since he was 3 ? years of age, and he?s a son that I?m very, very proud of. I have a strong sense of self-image. I make sure the shoes match the outfit, my clothes are clean and pressed and the accessories are appropriate, etc. I felt my breasts were absolutely a part of my self-image and I didn?t like them at all.

So much for all that. I decided to inquire about an implant for the reconstructed side. For what seemed like an eternity, I could not find a web site that featured reconstructed BA?s. A reconstructed breast is so much more difficult due to the mass of scar tissue and lack of natural tissue. I wanted to know about the success / failure ratio.

With little information I went to the first plastic surgeon recommended by my doctor (if your referred by a doctor you don?t have to pay for consultation fees). He had a tiny tiny little office. He told me that there was an 80% chance of me contracting CC. He also said that OHIP would cover both breasts for implants but recommended that I have a Tram or GAP flap. He explained what a flap was, it?s where they take fat from either your stomach or back or bottom and bring it up and around to the breast. The trouble with this, after research on my part, I would have had a large muscle-like bulge that would have run from my stomach all the way up to my breast because I was too thin. For larger woman this works wonders because you get a tummy tuck at the same time! This method is also the most preferred method for women that have had mastectomies.

My second consult was with a doctor that kept me waiting for over an 1 ?. She was blunt to a point of being insulting. She balked at the suggestion that OHIP would pay for both breasts and out and out refused to even submit a request to OHIP for coverage on both. Contrary to the previous doctor, she said my chance of getting CC would only be 20%. She agreed with me (which shocked me) that I was too thin for any type of tram flap. So I left her office with a surgical date for one implant and a bill of $1200.00 for a benelli lift for the right breast. Sigh?????

I still felt really uncomfortable. Which doctor was I to believe??? They were complete opposites.

I forgot about it for a few months and then got charged up again. I went to see a third PS. He didn?t keep me waiting. In fact he doesn?t keep anyone waiting ? he?s incredibly strict on this. Unfortunately because of his on-time policy you only get a 10-15 minute consult at best. He?s the type of doctor that you should see AFTER you?ve done your research. He told me that yes, both breasts will be covered by OHIP, chance of CC is 20%, and I?m too thin for a tram flap. What I did like about him were his credentials and high recommendations. Even on the day of my surgery the surgical admitting nurse raved about his work.

We talked about size, I showed him some pictures of what I like and didn?t like. I was worried about being too lop-sided. He was totally up front with me and said that I would never be symmetrical. I?ve lost too much natural tissue, scar tissue will not allow the implant to relax under the skin, but I will have a breast, and it will be an improvement over what I had (or not had). Because of the lack of breast tissue, he decided to use cohesive implants in both breasts to reduce rippling as much as possible.

With confidence in my PS, my surgery came on October 20, 2003. It was preformed in a hospital and I got to stay overnight. I soon as possible I looked at my breasts. I was SO excited, they looked fantastic (see picture that denotes ?one day after?). He put 375 Gms in the left breast and 225 Gms in the right breast. Both were so full, the scars seemed to disappear, and they looked fairly even. But darn they were hard!

After a month and a half I noticed a huge difference. The right breast had fully dropped and was incredibly soft. The reconstructed breast hadn?t moved. It was still quite tight and had this huge upper fullness that looked unnatural. I saw my PS again and we talked about my progress ? or lack of it. He reminded me of the barriers of an implant placed in so much scar tissue had but also told me that it was way to early to consider doing anything. (see 1 ? month old pictures ? the asymmetry problem is awful)

At three months I again noticed quite a difference. The old scars started showing up again. Not as predominate as before, but they were noticeable. All the swelling had gone down so the skin wasn?t stretched out which ?hide? them before. However, the reconstructed side was soft! Not as soft as the right, but definitely softer. It still has the upper poleness or fullness but even that has dropped about an ? inch. I know that doesn?t sound like much, but it took the pressure off my underarm (the implant was swollen up and held up by scar tissue that high).

The good thing is that they are still changing!!!! My left breast is s-l-o-w-l-y starting to drop. The skin is stretching making more room for the implant. There is still the asymmetry problem but it is getting better. I know it?s hard to tell by the pictures, but my breasts are actually the same size. If I measure them from the nipple down and to the side, they are the same.

To the ladies considering this. Even though without a bra I look pretty weird. When I do wear a bra or a bathing suit with a bra built in, my breasts look perfect! Let?s face it, more people see me in clothes while I?m wearing a bra then people see me naked. I do have a significant other in my life. He?s seen both sides of me. He did not influence my decision to have this done. Now though, since I?ve had it done he says I look really sexy and that I act sexy ? I have much more confidence.

Throughout this whole process it was very hard to get information or talk to other woman that have gone through the same process. It should be out there and all the doctors should be able to give all their patients all of the options and explain the choices and if they can?t to that they should refer them to someone who can. The information is all over the place and hard to get and when you are going through something like this - you know - you can't even see straight!!! There are lot?s and lot?s of American sites that talk about reconstruction, but I find most sites to be a copy and paste of information. Canadian sites are extremely difficult to find.

Don?t get shocked by my photos. My shape is changing every week. The 1-? month photos are enough to make the strongest woman run for the hills. The pictures look worse than reality. I hope to post my 3-month pictures soon so that you can see the difference
To all the ladies thinking about this. Please Please Please realize it will take much more time than the ?average? breast augmentation. I think it?s worth it. A few times I?ve felt a little down but more and more I?ve literally said out loud to my self ?I LOVE MY BREASTS? - That in itself is a miracle.

One thing I didn?t add, my tumour was diagnosed as 100% Her2/neu positive. Most of you ladies know that that?s a sign I?ll get cancer again. I?m prepared. I believe in living life with quality, not quantity. I?m a very happy woman now and it?s because I made the choice to be happy. . I do feel I made a really intelligent decision and that feels good ---

Good Luck to all the Breast Cancer Survivors out there. Keep fighting the beast.



1 day post:

1 ? months post:
5'3" 122 lbs
BC Reconstruction Surgery
Left Breast - 375 Cohesive Round Mentor
Right Breast - 225 Cohesive Round Mentor
BA date: Monday, October 20, 2003

Dr. Bendago
#6 in the silicone photo gallery
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Joined: 08 Jul 2004
Posts: 530
Location: Ontario

PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2004 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linda I don't know you but I've just read your story. You have touched me. I have a very dear friend who is currently fighting breast cancer. Your story reflects what could be of so many women.
I had tears in my eyes reading it and then I had a smile across my face. My heart goes out to you. But I applaud you for your actions and for your attitude. Not many women can tell a history like yours and still carry a smile in her picture.
Here's to breast cancer survivors!!!
32 yrs 5'2
2 beautiful girls 9 & 6yrs a would love to be a FULL C!!
30 inch ribcage
BA June 13th 2005
Dr.Brown, 335, Inamed 410 MF, coh/gel, over, crease
Pre BA 36A (sometimes a B)
Post BA....dunno yet!!
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Joined: 27 Sep 2003
Posts: 429
Location: Richmond, Virginia

PostPosted: Sun Oct 03, 2004 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linda I can only say you are such an inspiration to all of us. You have really gone through it all and have maintained your positive outlook.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Bless you.
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Joined: 06 Feb 2005
Posts: 118
Location: Toronto

PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2005 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Linda - I must say after reading your story through - I don't know if I'm ready to take on breast reconstruction - It is quite amazing that you have such a terrific attitude after going through all that.
I just wish (In my case) I could at least see a PS to get some answers.
But - I guess I will just have to wait -(I hope I live that long) Smile
Marilyn Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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